It's Not Your Fault Your Kid Is a Jerk

nature vs nurtureFinally! Something to not blame on mom and dad. Apparently you can behave however you want in front of the kids (yes, this includes giving the finger to that guy parked too close to your passenger side door) and they'll turn out the same. In other words, nature trumps nurture when it comes to personality, job choices, social attitudes, and what kids do in their spare time.

Of course this also means that you're not going to get anywhere by only allowing indie rock in the car, dangit. Those kids will choose whatever it is you don't like no matter how hard you try to indoctrinate them to NPR and The Strokes.

Whoo-hoo! Feels good to be off the hook, right? Except of course, we're not. Because science is all complicated and stuff.


A new twin study that's being called a ground-breaker does debunk the idea that we're all blank slates, and our environment shapes us. By studying twins with the same genetic material that grew up separately but with a strikingly similar end result in personality, genetics won this round. However, you can never be fully dismissive of nurture.

Even though your genetic material will determine personality traits, your genetic material is constantly being adjusted by your environment. As the study says, genes are actually devices for extracting information from your environment. So while the IQs of twins separated at birth were the same, there were environmental factors that were the same as well as the genetic material in common. Both lived with families, were taught the same language, and neither lived in poverty. Which, according to most studies, does have a huge impact on IQ, among other traits.

Also, you know, if you contributed either an egg or sperm -- that genetic material is yours. So you can still only have yourself to blame if the kid prefers Mozart over Motocross, or vice versa.

How much influence do you think you have over your child's personality?


Image via Tom Coppen/Flickr

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